2019 NBA Finals projections: Warriors clear favorites to beat Raptors, win third straight title, with or without Kevin Durant

After a thrilling three rounds of action, the 2019 NBA Finals are set, with Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors tipping off on Thursday night. 

Representing the Eastern Conference, the Raptors have home court in the Finals courtesy of their 58-24 record, which was the second-best in the league, behind only the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors, of course, just took down the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, ripping off four straight wins to take the series, 4-2. They've now reached the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Out West, there was no surprise, as the Golden State Warriors advanced to the Finals for the fifth straight season. They've dealt with some adversity in the form of injuries to Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, but they still recorded a four-game sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. They now have a chance to win their third straight title, and fourth in five seasons. 

Ahead of the Finals, SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh crunched the numbers and ran the projections to determine which team has the best chance of capturing the Larry O'Brien trophy. 

Team

Las Vegas odds

SportsLine projection

Golden State Warriors

-310

66.2%

Toronto Raptors

+250

33.8%

A few takeaways from these projections:

  • First of all, it's important to note that the initial projections are assuming Durant is out for the whole series. But for those who believe the Warriors are better off without him, the SportsLine data would disagree. When Oh ran the projections adjusting for a Durant return in Game 3, the Warriors' chances jumped to 73.5 percent, or an increase of 7.3 percent. 

Warriors

SportsLine projection

Without Durant

66.2%

Durant returns in Game 3

73.5%

IMPACT

+7.3%

  • Regardless of what happens with Durant, it's little surprise to see the Warriors entering this series as sizable favorites. For as well as Kawhi Leonard has been playing, the Raptors' supporting cast has been inconsistent throughout the playoffs, while the Warriors have proven championship players in Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. And then, of course, there's Steph Curry, who, at the very least, is equal to Leonard. 
NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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